EU/US – EU wants visa free travel for all its members
21 October 2004
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EU officials met recently with their U.S. counterparts to discuss an extension of the US Visa Waiver Program, which at the moment allows nationals from 15, mainly western EU members, of the 25 member strong union to enter the United States without a visa.
In the case of Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Cyprus and Malta, their citizens must still apply for a visa. Still, EU officials say a solidarity clause might be invoked, demanding visas for U.S. citizens regardless of which EU country they would like to travel to.
U.S. responded by saying the main criteria for joining the U.S. Visa Waiver Program is that the number of rejected applications for a visa must be below 3 percent, although aspirant countries must also meet other criteria including introducing machine-readable passports and granting visa-free travel to U.S. citizens.
An agreement is expected next year. However, EU would like to see that the concerned 10 members of the union be treated as a group while the U.S. says countries willing to enter the Visa Waiver Program will be considered on its own merits.
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